Morphology and kinematics of the baboon upper cervical spine: A model of the atlantoaxial complex

Curtis A. Dickman, Neil R. Crawford, Teiji Tominaga, Anna G.U. Brantley, Stephen Coons, Volker K.H. Sonntag

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Study Design. Quantitative and qualitative analyses were performed to compare the anatomy and biomechanics of baboon and human upper cervical spires. Objectives. This study examined the baboon as a potential model for in vivo and In vitro atlantoaxial research. Summary-of Background Data. A variety of animal models have been used for spine research; however, no species have been used for C1-C2 research. Mast species have remarkably different C1-C2 morphology compared with that of humans. Methods. Twenty baboon and seven human normal adult cadaveric upper cervical spines were studied morphologically. C1-C2 motion segments were analyzed biomechanically using a flexibility method of testing with physiologic range, nondestructive loading. Motion and load-deformation relationships were studied during flexion, extension, bilateral lateral bending, and bilateral axial rotation. Results. The bones and ligaments of the baboon and human upper cervical vertebrae have similarly proportioned structures, identical individual components, and similar geometric configurations. The average size of the baboon vertebrae was 50% to 60% of the human specimens. There wars several minor anatomical differences. Baboons had more horizontal C2-C3 facet joints and more vertical C1-C2 articular surfaces; the vertebral arteries were encased in P continuous bony canal in C1. Biomechanical testing demonstrated that baboons and humans has similarly proportioned neutral zones and elastic zones. Compared with humans, baboons had a 2° to 9° wider range of motion in all directions. Conclusions. The baboon and human upper cervical anatomy and biomechanics are similar. The baboon may be useful to study atlantoaxial biomechanics and pathology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2518-2523
Number of pages6
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 1994 Nov


  • Atlas
  • Axis
  • Baboon
  • Craniovertebral junction
  • Flexibility testing
  • Spinal
  • Spinal anatomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology


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